The number of immigrants to Germany dropped below 800,000 for the first time in many years in 2003, the broadcaster Deutsche Welle reports.
According to Government figures released on January 17, 768,000 migrants came to Germany in 2003. About two thirds of these arrivals were from European countries, mainly Italy, Poland, Russia and Turkey.
German Government officials say that the low figures for 2003 were due to a fall in the number of asylum seekers and Russians with German ancestry seeking entry. From 1991 to 2003 the wars in Yugoslavia and the repatriation of ethnic Germans from the east saw 14 million foreigners enter Germany, of whom 5 million stayed.
The figures for these arrivals are expected to be even lower for 2004, and lower still in 2005 thanks to a new immigration law placing emphasis on skilled immigration that came into effect January 1.